Vernon Christian Royals tuned up for their home Tri-Lakes eight-team senior boys volleyball tournament this weekend with a silver medal showing at a tournament in Coquitlam.
The defending B.C. A champion Royals finished second at the 24-team Douglas College Invitational, losing a heartbreaking final to the Earl Marriott Mariners of Surrey, who are ranked No. 1 in B.C. in the 3A division.
The Royals opened the tournament in the power pool, dispatching Richmond’s McRoberts Strikers 25-22, 25-16 in their first match, knocking off the Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver 25-18, 25-12, then losing 24-26, 25-18, 15-12 to the Mariners.
On Day 2, Vernon Christian grounded the Seaquam Seahawks of Delta 25-20, 25-15 in quarterfinal play, and advanced to the championship with a 25-22, 25-18 win over the Pipers.
The final against Earl Marriott was a closely fought affair with both teams unwilling to give in. The Royals came out of the gate early in the first set, but the Mariners weathered the storm and clawed back to take it 28-26. The second set became a marathon battle with both sides coming up with big kills, blocks, and digs. Neither side was willing to give the other an edge but the Royals prevailed when the Mariners hit a ball out the backcourt to give VCS a 38-36 set win.
The third and final set was another see-saw battle, each team trading big kills and blocks for points. The Mariners won 15-13 on the final play with a soft tip just over the Royals’ blockers to give the Mariners the tournament title.
Tournament All-star selections for the Royals were Ben Molitwenik and Liam Remple.
Vernon Christian will be joined by Langley’s Credo Christian Kodiaks, the Immaculata Mustangs of Kelowna and Cedars Christian Eagles of Prince George in the four-team Swan Lake Division of the Royals’ home tourney.
Vernon Christian will play the Mustangs at 2 p.m. Friday, then take on the Eagles at 4 p.m. and finish the round-robin at 7:15 p.m. against the Kodiaks. All games will be at Vernon Christian School.
The Seaton Sonics headline the four-team Okanagan Lake Division and will play their first game on their home court Friday at 2 p.m. against the Kelowna Christian School Knights. The Sonics will then move their games to Vernon Secondary (home of the other division games as well) and play the Mt. Sentinel Wildcats of South Slocan at 4 p.m. and finish the preliminary round at 7:15 p.m. against the Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops.
All playoff games will be held Saturday at Vernon Christian School, starting with quarterfinal play at 9 a.m. The championship game is slated for 3:30 p.m.